Does Above the Fold Really Exist in Email Marketing?

Every marketer will know that ‘above the fold’ has been an important rule for print advertising and even website design to abide by. But with the growing percentage of users using tablets and smart phones to check their inbox, which has changed user behaviour to naturally scroll, does this rule still apply for email marketing?

When it comes down to digital media, the fold refers to what the reader can see without needed to scroll down the page, and for some markets, what can be seen in the preview box of their email software. To some experts, this is the sweet spot for your key message and should be used to attract the reader to respond to your call to action. The main logic behind this view is that many of your subscribers are busy people with busy lives and will not have time to scroll through your email to get to your main objective. However, in this day and age scrolling is something most of us will do automatically without much thought, whether we are viewing on desktop, tablet or mobile, so does this matter anymore?

ciara-quoteWell, kind of, research has shown that ‘above the fold’ does have an impact on a reader’s likelihood to act upon the content, however this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put your key message in this space. What you do need to do is include your brand logo, an eye-catching image with an attention-grabbing headline above the fold, to give your reader a reason to scroll down the rest of the newsletter. After this content has been added, you can then focus on where to position your call to action. For some industries this may mean that their key message and call to action does appear above the fold, but for others it may be further down depending on how much content is needed before you can expect your reader to want to act upon the information you have provided.

Like most marketing concepts, the best way to know what works for your brand and industry is to A/B test your campaigns and see how the design can affect your conversion rate so as to learn how your customers react to the positioning of your call to actions.

Ultimately, the fold is losing its importance as more users view the majority of their emails on their mobile devices, making the fold redundant. For the newsletters we send for clients we typically see 30-40% of opens are on iPhones alone. And this number is only growing. Instead, I suggest placing more emphasis on what content will draw your subscribers to continue reading the whole newsletter. Forget the fold, and think about when the time is right for your subscriber to want to click through.

Using dynamic content can help you cater your content so that you are providing more or less information depending on the group’s level of engagement, such as potential and existing customers. Remember that rules that apply to one industry do not always relate to another, and the same goes for email marketing design. The most important question to ask yourself is how much content your subscriber needs before they will want to act on your call to action. Using dynamic content can help you cater your content so that you are providing the right level of information to the each group.